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6 Ways to Celebrate Christmas Without Presents

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, it’s that holly-jolly time of the year again. Maybe it’s the broke university student in me, but as I get older each year, Christmas feels a little less magical and a little more stressful. Instead of stressing over what cookies to leave out for Santa, I find myself stressing over if the presents I bought my friends and family are going to be ‘good enough’. I even went as far as buying all my presents in November this year just so I could ‘enjoy’ the holiday season. I wish I was an anomaly,however, it seems like everyone I talk to has the same feeling as I do. Gone are the days of snowball fights and Mariah Carey Christmas Specials and hello to credit card debt, shopping lists, and setting price limits with friends. Sometimes I think the only way to bring back that Christmas magic are to forget about presents altogether. So here is my list on how to create memorable moments with your loved ones this holiday season present-free.

Volunteer at a Charity Center

Volunteering at a local charity center is something very easy to accomplish and can not only be a very humbling experience among family, but also help those in need whilst reminding you and those around you about the true meaning of the holiday season. There are so many different types of charities and ways to volunteer especially during the holidays. Local soup kitchens and toy drives are the most common and the added benefit is there are so many ways to help. If you do not want to physically drop off the toys or interact with those giving toys; you can be part of the packing and wrapping portion. Either way it is a huge way to help others this holiday season while connecting in a well-intentioned experience with your family.

Visit a Nursing Home, Hospital, or Animal Shelter

Another way to help those in your community this holiday season is to simply give others your time and lend a caring ear. So many places such as nursing homes, hospitals and animal shelters are looking for volunteers to just come in and sit in conversation with those in these facilities. Nursing homes and hospitals can be a great way to connect with amazing people who might be alone this holiday season. You can even learn a thing or two from spending even thirty minutes in conversation with someone on a different walk of life from yourself. Animals are not in any less need of affection than people; visiting a shelter can be a great way to spend time with animals that may not be spending their Christmas as comfortable as most.

Christmas Potluck

This is a fun idea that was introduced to my friends a few years ago when we realized we were all too broke to do any kind of gifts. Instead, we threw a Christmas party and rather than do presents or Secret Santa- everyone had to make and bring some sort of ‘holiday’ themed food or drink. It is such a fun way to get creative and come together to celebrate the season with friends without having to stress about finding the ‘right’ gift. You can get together, enjoy good food, and laugh over kitchen horror stories on failed cooking attempts.

Christmas Lights Walk

I feel like most families have or have participated in this holiday activity; however, it never fails to get old. An easy way to feel the holiday spirit without needing an expensive present is to bundle up, get your friends or family together, and go for a nice walk around your neighbourhood. Look at all the lights, enjoy the crisp air and just spend an evening surrounded by those you love with nothing relevant other than each other and Christmas lights.

Christmas Caroling

Okay, this might be a less popular idea… but my family did this the other year and I must admit it’s a lot of fun. Christmas carolling (to contrary belief) has nothing to do with how good you sound as a group. It’s about spreading Christmas cheer to your community, even if it’s in a tone-deaf fashion. Nothing will bond your friends or family more than sounding horrible together, singing songs in front of neighbours and community members. I mean, hey- in the worst-case scenario, if you’re nervous about it just have a little liquid courage ready to go (trust me… it can go a long way ).

Exchange Letters

I think one of the most thoughtful, non-expensive but meaningful things you could give your loved ones is a handwritten letter or note. While it may seem sappy or cheesy, this is not just something to do for your significant other. Letters do not only showcase written memories, love, and care for another person, but it shows these things through the time spent to sit down and write it out in a world full of technology. Not to mention letters are a memorable keepsake that can’t be accidentally deleted or lost off a computer. Call me old fashioned but I honestly can’t think of anything more lovely than a caring letter written in the handwriting of someone you love and care about.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate this holiday season, remind yourself that while it can feel as though presents are the main focus, they are not. The holidays are a time to celebrate all that you are grateful for surrounded by those that make you feel good. If presents are something you stress about, spend extra time this holiday season to figure out different ways that will allow you to enjoy the season and remind yourself about what is truly important, togetherness.

Belle O’Neill

Wilfrid Laurier '23

Belle is a forth year Communications and Environmental Studies student at Wilfrid Laurier University. Hoping to pursue a career in Journalism, Belle has a passion for people and story telling.